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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Awesome...Great...Good...Ok....EH WHAT?????

That's one progressively downer going level of appraisal if i may say so myself,,right readers???

So what is that a chain of? My mood? Social Morals? Any other arcane "old is gold and new is crap" sort of subject that everybody from old retirees having their daily morning/evening "chat ups" to political ideologists and intellectuals who still feel central govt controlling everything is the best form of governance?

It CAN be all that since the heading is fairly generic and open to interpretation and extrapolation. But i'll keep it focused on a fairly light topic.......


I, for one, can honestly, without hesitation, utterly staunch in my views, state that current film music has gone to utter SHIT.Well,, the SHIT part is applicable to 98% of the hindi movie music in anycase even if not the complete 100%. But why am i saying that?? Am i a 80-90 year old who feels listening to songs sung by Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, K L Saigal or composed by S D Burman, R D Burman brings back memories of a time when going to the bathroom to piss wasn't a chore in itself at 1AM at night or that i could actually eat SOLID food rather than slurp spoonfulls of squishy mush coz i don't have teeth?


Let me make you all look at it with a simple view. Pick up any song from the days of Kishore Kumar, Mohd Rafi and co and listen to it once.

Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera,
O Haseena Zulfon Wali,
Chura Liya hai Tumne,
O Mere Dil Ke Chain,
Mera Joota Hai Japani,
Pyar Hua Ikraar Hua,
Khoya Khoya Chand,
Dil Ka Bhawar Kare Pukar,

(examples given for your ease of picks. You can add any of your choice)

After one solitary listening you can probably hum it no end and even sing 40-50% of the song paragraphs. Listen to it twice and i can pretty much guarantee you can sing the whole song with word perfect accuracy. Now that isn't something to be taken trivially. The popularity of a song depends crucially on how fast it sticks in the listener's mind. And in THAT aspect the oldies win hands down. Take the breed of the new "hip" songs that litter the music scene and after 5 minutes of hearing them,,you can't recollect one line. Examples for those are way-yy-yy too many to even start writing about here, so fill in your own whilst reading( Ok. Some examples like CASH). Not only are the songs which are normally intertwined during a movie plot unfolding,,say,, like the hero-heroine catching each other's glances for the first time and holding them, the first kiss, the 'stuck-at-lonely-shack-in-monsoon' have become forgettably ordinary,,but the so called "Item Songs" have killed off whatever sanity was left. Even the ludicrously popular ones like college favourite "Crazy Kiya Re" doesn't hold anyone's imagination to hum or sing it after a couple of months.

Now my current crib about the state of the music scene isn't anything economic in nature. Hold on a sec......It IS economic in nature. I gotta spend precious moolah buying shitty songs and music. Ok...Ok, i download most of my music for free on P2P before venturing out to buy any CDs after a review of songs. But my current crib is that, I, a self annointed listener of "quality" music, has to wad through the drudgery of mindless and pathetically distant-to-the-listener music just because there HARDLY IS ANY OTHER VARIETY AROUND!!!( and the music moguls ponder why P2P has taken off so explosively....yeesh)

Music, any type or genre, in my view must make the listener forget about his ills, his problems, his world around him and immerse the person in the feeling and emotion the music is meant to convey. Classical music does that with perfection. Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi's music can totally absorb you into their fold. I hold a special place for John Williams' music from the Star Wars series of movies coz they have a really good ability to make your mind feel the emotions of the movie even without watching. And why even go that far off?? Even our own national anthem instills a sense of belonging and pride towards our nation(yeah ok,,that's the basic premise of any national anthem, but still). Compare that to the beats heavy film music of today,,and it seems that pharma companies have a secret pact with music composers to have them belt out headache inducing music to boost the sales of over-the-counter painkillers. The "Remix" culture is pretty synonimous with that particular feeling. Somebody should tell DJ Suketu that a remix needs something more than "Bang-Bang-Bang-Bling-Bling-Bling". Take away the actual lyrics,,and i can bet pretty penny that a listener can't make a distinction between any 2 of DJ Suketu's remixes( on a related note, i do like DJ Aqeel's remixes due to the face that he uses original singer's voices in his remixes, especially of Kishore Kumar, and has a variety of styles; and Bally Sagoo who's "Churaliya" is still the ultimate remix in my view).

But there is a clearing at the of the tunnel it seems. The "Underground" music scene is exploding all around the world from college groups belting out some cult classics like "BC Sutta" from the Pakistani group - Zeest, and my personaly favourite, "Gaand Mein Danda" from a group from XLRI Jamshedpur - Bodhi Tree. Now these aren't exactly "for family listening", but they accomplish perfectly what any form of music is meant to accomplish - make the listener FEEL the singer's/composer's emotions and his outlook on his life. The "Asian Underground" movement in the UK pretty much evolved into the "lounge music" scene with names like Talveen Singh and Karunesh. The success of all these names point to one thing from the Point-of-View of the listeners to the media empires - GIVE US GOOD MUSIC and we'll BUY them. Push CRAP on us and you can forget us spending a single cent.

Oh yeah,,before i wrap up. I would like to point out a weird trend going around with respect to music listening especially by the "hip" crowd(read college and under 28 group). Songs like "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee and "Bebot" by the Black Eyed peas have become somewhat akin to trendsetters when it comes to "oooh yeah,,that's cooooool man" type of songs. Funny thing is,,,i haven't met one,,,,ONE listener around me who even understands a SINGLE word in any of these songs. One is in latino while the other is Filipino. Now why would a "Hindi" nation bred up on "American English" listen to these kinda songs and actually RAVE about them???? Hmm,,,,,beats me. Well,,no matter,,you wanna rave,,then rave. It's a free country. But don't try to show it off as being "COOOOOL" to the other person and ping someone who actually listens to "GOOD MUSIC" as a dead-heap old-timer.

Hey,,who knows. Maybe if the "Bebot" crowd are exposed to Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Classical Instrumental or even good quality Asian Underground, they might even learn to like "MUSIC". But i surely ain't getting my hopes up.

P.S:- Was also gonna write about Tamil music since i'm a avid listener to old movie songs of Sivaji films and stuff,,but couldn't get the names of singers and composers in my mind. But no matter,,the picture there isn't too different too.Also i have a similar article on movies coming up. But till then Happy Reading and Happy Listening to "Good Music" ;)

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Facelifts Galore

Greetings readers,

I've updated the layout of my blog to include a integrated search box with 3 preset domains which i feel will be useful for the readers. They are :-

Moneycontrol - Moneycontrol is a financial portal of the CNBC-TV18 group and can be used to get equity market news, tips, boarder messages and quotes of Indian Exchange stocks from the NSE and BSE.

Engadget - Engadget needs no introduction in the techie and consumer electronic savvy crowd. For newbies, the site features reviews of consumer electronics like mobiles, PDAs, consoles, Mp3 players and so forth. So if you need a rundown of the pros and cons before buying a product, simply run through the reviews here.

The Pirate Bay - THE No. 1 Bittorrent tracker site. Anything file you need to download, you'll get the tracker here. I recommend utorrent for you torrent downloading needs. Advanced users can opt for the Azureus client.

I also have a Google Pack button on the right in the links menu should you want to download Google Apps like Google Earth, Reader, Picasa and so forth. There's a BlogRovr button which allows you to go to the blogrovr site and download the Firefox extension (Also available for Internet Explorer) allowing you to read your favourite blogs in a nifty pop-up on any page you are and also subscribe to them for updates. One of the most useful additions being the Answerboxes which allow you to just double click on any word to get a short windowed dictionary. Last but not least, the custom links which have a variety of useful sites bookmarked. Notables include Yourminis and Investorwords.

If you feel the links here are not what most of you are looking for or you want more to ease your browsing,,suggest the links and i'll put them up. If any functionality you desire needs to be added,,send in the suggestions on that too.

Happy Reading!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mobile Illiteracy & Miserliness- The DARK Truth

Let's face it,,,irrespective of the fact that mobiles have gone from the realm of strictly "rich" to a level where even a rickshaw-walla has one to chatter away,,they're still the uber style and "status" icon on a 'portable' level. Mobile manufacturers churn out new models with glitzier styling, more features, better battery, larger screens and so on and so forth at such a rate that a state-of-the-art mobile today is OBSOLETE within 6 months from the "bleeding edge" Point Of View. And while witnessing replacements on a yearly, half-yearly, quarterly or even bi-monthly timescales; it seems hard to imagine that just half to three quarters of a decade ago,,mobiles were still considered a nouveau-rich accessory which users kept till the mobile died of "Old Age".

But it's not a bad thing at all. For the price of a "hand-held brick" that could do nothing but make phone calls and send messages with a battery life of hardly 5-6 hours,,today one can have a virtual handheld computer which is a camera, media player, storage medium and your personal secretary (albeit without the 'curves' ;) ) all rolled into one. Oh yeah,,they still make phone calls and send messages. (WWWooooWWW)

India today has the fastest growing mobile population in the world in percentage terms and ranks 2nd in absolute terms. Mobile telephony operators mint money,,LITERALLY,,by catering to the ever increasing horde of users. More and more services like banking and ticket booking are being offered from the comfort of the mobile phone. Everything seems a shining pot of gold for users and operators alike.

But all this glitz,,,all this replacements to be "up-to-date" in style and features,,,all this new fangled feature terminology and the ever present tendency of young and old to want to carry the latest 'HOT' product on the market hides a disappointing truth - Mobile users are ILLITERATE and amazingly MISERLY even if they flaunt the latest Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson P1i, XDA 02 or the latest incarnation of the ultra-popular Motorola RAZR.

Illiterate you ask??? MISERLY you ask??? Surely i jest,,right????


Take a good long look at the mobile usage details of most of the population, if i may put a top of my mind number to it, 95% of mobile users in India haven't moved on from the basic "call and message" way of using their mobile phones irrespective of whether their mobile is a economy level plain-jane Nokia or a top-of-the-line Symbian or Windows Mobile Smartphone like the XDA O2 or the E90. Now why is that? Surely a person buying a phone with everything but the kitchen sink built into it would use most of the features inbuilt,,right??? WRONG again!!!! A study from BBC and WIRED Magazine showed that 90% of all mobile phone features are never used by the user. Why is that?? The easiest answer would be,,that the features are hard to grasp. After all,,if you go to a person with a mobile and say " Setup the net usage using GPRS or EDGE with sounds and images set to 'OFF' to save BANDWIDTH and speed up RENDERING", the majority chances are the least the person would do is give you blank stares as if you've asked a ascetic monk about the technicalities of the Kama Sutra,, or worse,, wallop you right in the eye for denting the "i'm a mobile user,,so i'm mod" image of himself/herself. Bottom line, the user has no idea how to go about it. Setup Email - No idea, setup PC drivers for USB transfers - No idea. Enable/Disable features on phone - Maybe not "No Idea",,but barring tech-o-philes or really savvy users,,most will crap out coz they feel they'll "Brick" their phones( Techspeak for making the phone inoperative)

Let's for one moment take a summarical view of what the most usage styles of users who have mid-range phones and top end phones are. MP3 listening and transfers are right on top of usage time. So is transfer of video clips and pictures using Infrared or Bluetooth. Listening to FM. Now you ask me, all these things are a sign of tech savviness, is it not? Well,, one one level it is. But then again,,take a good long look at the things listed above. MP3 , pictures and video transfers using Bluetooth, FM listening - All FREE!!!! It doesn't cost a CENT. Now just tell that person so generous in transferring the media to send it to you via GPRS to your email,,and i can bet pretty penny,,that person is gonna BALK. Why? Coz it costs MONNEEYY!!! So,,the most features one uses on the phone,,are ones which can be used for FREE. That's a telling example of why usage of the internet over mobiles hasn't taken off till date in India though every phone from Rs 4000 onwards having WAP or GPRS are well capable of it. The Illiteracy about telephony features is so rampant that, with an example to clarify, people don't even know that most mobile operators offer basic internet packages on their networks FOR FREE. (Airtel Live is FREE,,for those of you who didn't know till now whilst browing other pages costs a measly 15 paise per 10KB translating to Rs 15 per MB of usage. Expensive compared to fixed line packages,,but you can't beat the portability ease and anywhere internet lookup for sure). Taking pictures is a big thumbs-up for mobile junkies. Camera Mobiles are really mana from heaven for the young who want to capture certain 'Cherished' moments with family and friends( Now Now,,keep your thoughts clean,,i know about the seedy side of this usage). But to see guys and gals going ga-ga over more and more Megapixels on their phone cam is a avenue of amusement in itself for a musing techie. While a 5MP camera on the N95 sounds amazing,, it's also pretty.......USELESS! Why? Simply because no home PC monitor can show 5MP in it's full size state. So the picture has to be zoomed out to be viewed. So if one is zooming out to see a smaller picture,,why have the need for massive sized photos of 2MP and beyond in the first place? The Sweet Spot for mobile cam phones is 2MP giving you 1600x1200 sized shots. Anything more seems overkill especially since mobile cameras use CMOS sensors rather than good quality CCD sensors that standalone cameras use. The quality difference is so world's apart no serious photo-junkie worth his salt would be caught dead using Camera Phones to capture minute detail professional level shots,,no matter how good camera phones are. Though as a side note for buyers, i must say,,Sony Ericsson has the best camera quality in phones. Their 2MP phones like the K750i can run circles around a Nokia Nseries in camera quality while the higher rez 3.2MP K800i and beyond are a class apart and give a good alternative to budged standalone digicams for casual users.

So,,,after all the hoopla,,,one sees that either users are completely clueless about how to use most of the advanced features of their phones, or are too cheap to pay for using most of the features that their phones offer even if they ARE tech savvy to use the features. So this brings up one question. IF,,in majority of the cases,,if all one has to use is the calling and messaging feature and occasional MP3 listening,,what's the point of changing for newer and newer phones every 6 months????? Why would one want to chuck, say a Nokia 6680 for a Nseries whilst in the end using the same things in both phones and nothing more? Why would one want to blow a month's salary on a high-end phone like a XDA 02 or Sony Ericsson P1i or Nokia E90 when you're gonna do the same things that you did with a 8000 bucks mid-range?? But beyond all that,,,,,,,,,,,,Why spend such high amounts of money,,,,when most users are not even generous enough to actually CALL and instead save that precious rupee by giving MISSED CALLS and wait for the other person to call back???? Why flaunt your mobile's EDGE, 3G, Java, Blah-Blah, Bling-Bling if you don't even know how the hell to use them? How many of use see anyone using their mobiles to book tickets over the mobile internet,,or pay their bills,, or do mobile banking??

Barring the top 5% of users comprising of businessmen who really use the services like mobile banking or checking their email and so forth and the techies (i'm a proud member of the techie world if i may boast) who actually have the skills to use their mobiles to the hilt of what it offers,,the rest are just shams and posers for whom the most knowledge about phones which they are aware of is the MAKE AND MODEL of their phones. Mobile Internet????? Duh!!!!!

That concludes the insights on the "hip, modern and technologically astute" world of Indian mobile users.

Which part of the world do YOU come in????Put in your views.....

Author's Note - Has a MotoRIZR Z3, tweaked for extra speed, additional software for Fax and setup for mobile internet using EDGE where available or GPRS as backup. Hates the Java based OS for it's speed,,but loves it for the ample software for it available on the net.

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